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Engendering Jubilee

a new vision

by Debra Vitt



What are the biblical hopes offered by Jubilee?   Do the Jubilee hopes carry forward the aspirations of women as expressed in the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women?   Do these hopes speak to women's realities and more importantly will they lead to a real change in women's lives?

These are just some of the questions raised by the Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice (ECEJ)  --  Women and Economic Justice Working Group of ECEJ in their publication Engendering Jubilee,  Biblical Hopes and Women's Reality.   This phrase  "Engendering Jubilee"  comes to us from the African Women's International Jubilee movement.   By "engendering" we bring to light the global experiences of women's oppression in relation to the vision and practice of Jubilee.   This is not a "new vision for women" only but rather a "new vision,"  period,  For us all.

I believe that if we have taken seriously the aims of Jubilee,  we must continue to address the ongoing struggle that women face in their daily lives.   The work and study related to the Ecumenical Decade confirmed for us that when an economy is oppressed,  it is the women who bear the greatest burden.   When Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) are imposed to "correct" an unbalanced economy,  it is the women who bear the greatest burden of an increased work load and suffer most from decreased support systems.   We know that as communities break down,  there is a dramatic increase in violence against women.   This is true even in our churches.   During the 1998 Decade Festival in Harare the WCC Eighth Assembly initiated a direct appeal to call on the gathered community to declare violence against women a sin.

Given the vision and spirit of Jubilee and the ongoing call of the Ecumenical Decade,  where is the hope for women?   An engendered Jubilee means  "bringing to balance the unjust power relations between men and women,  rich and poor,  white and people of colour,  colonizer and colonized,  straight and gay." (ECEJ)   Jubilee is about a commitment to accountability,  balance and justice.

This time last year I was in Managua,  Nicaragua,  as part of an educational global exposure experience.   I witnessed first hand the daily struggles for women to secure adequate shelter,  food and employment for themselves and for their families.   The gripping realities of the poverty and homelessness,  the tears and the fear,  are forever etched on my being.   I hold these images in balance with the profound sense of hope that surrounded many of those women we met.   This hope was founded in the actions that women were taking to liberate their communities from the ravages of globalization.   Women were coming together with their varied gifts and skills to educate,  advocate and learn from each other.   The hands and feet of Christ were active in the streets of Managua.

Engendering Jubilee is about recognizing that Jubilee is  "already present in the spirit and courage of women's lives.   That tremendous spirit is magnified as we come together to confront not just our own but the oppressions of our sisters,  when we come together in community with men of solidarity and when we call on the God of life to stir our passion for life and for justice into a whirlwind of change that will blow through all of creation."  (ECEJ)

May we each be touched by that spirit of Wisdom as She hovers over creation offering healing in hope of liberation.   May we join with each other and with all of creation as we sound the trumpet of Jubilee,  proclaiming Sabbath for all.

This page is reprinted  (with permission)  from The Eyeopener,  the website of Justice,  Economy,  and the Integrity of the Earth,  a committee of Winnipeg Presbytery United Church of Canada.   This site is well worth a visit.



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